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U.S. takes down Chinese balloon over East Coast

Posted at 1:01 PM, Feb 04, 2023
and last updated 2023-02-04 15:15:20-05

The suspected Chinese spy balloon that has been drifting across the United States since Thursday has been shot down.

The balloon was shot down by U.S. fighter jets just after 2:30 p.m. ET on Saturday.

Officials had initially advised against shooting down the balloon because falling debris could cause risk to people on the ground, sources told CBS News. However, on Saturday morning, President Joe Biden told reporters that the U.S. was "gonna take care of" the balloon.

The Federal Aviation Administration closed the airspace and issued a ground stop at three airports in North and South Carolina on Saturday afternoon.

Chinese officials have denied that the balloon is meant for surveillance, saying in a statement on Friday that it is a civilian device used for scientific research that was blown off-course by unexpected winds.

Sen. Chuck Schumer praised the operation on Twitter on Saturday afternoon, saying that the United States could now "collect the equipment and analyze the technology" used by the Chinese government.

Defense officials previously told CBS News that the surveillance equipment attached to the balloon was the size of two to three school buses.

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